PC 31649 Three Friends
Produced by Gentle Giant
Released on 1972
US CHART POSITION #197
Find it at GEMM
PC 31649 cover
[outer gatefold photo]
 

T he first Gentle Giant album I ever owned, and so one close to my heart. Three Friends tells the story of, you guessed it, three friends as they grow up and grow apart. The story may have some holes, but not the music. The band, which now included drummer Malcolm Mortimore, was arguably at the height of their creativity (third albums are often the watershed moment in a band’s discography). Despite some dark passages, particularly the scathing “Mister Class And Quality?,” Three Friends is an album better remembered for its sense of humor and arrangements that bring the phrase “an embarrassment of riches” to mind. As impressive a musical statement of direction as it is, building on the promise of earlier songs like “The House, The Street, The Room,” Three Friends fails to make much of a social statement (a charge that could also be levelled against The Power and The Glory I suppose). In the final analysis, childhood is good and adulthood is bad; the artist, the laborer and the white-collar worker all get tarred with the same brush. Better to focus on the music: majestic, intricate, playful, grating, the sextet seems able to change gears on a whim, weaving Kerry Minnear’s keyboards, Gary Green’s guitars and Ray Shulman’s bass into a vivid tapestry (e.g., “Three Friends”). Unlike a lot of progressive acts who were wont to combine complexity with brute force, Gentle Giant plays a gentle hand, letting the music speak for itself with humanity and (seeming) humility. There are so many sublime moments on here -- the childlike break in the opening “Prologue” and the closing theme on “Three Friends” always come to mind -- you’ll wonder why Gentle Giant never found the commercial success of Yes and ELP. If you’re not familiar with Three Friends, you owe it to yourself to make its acquaintance. On a personal note, ritualistic creature that I am, I use “Prologue” to break in all my new stereo equipment since its mix of light and dark, quiet and loud is ideal for the task (and because I never tire of hearing it). Thanks to Scott Hamrick for the UK album cover shots below.

6360 070 front cover 6360 070 back cover
6360 070 front cover 6360 070 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. PROLOGUE    6:12
  2. SCHOOLDAYS    7:35
  3. WORKING ALL DAY    5:10
  4. PEEL THE PAINT    7:28
  5. MISTER CLASS AND QUALITY?    3:23
  6. THREE FRIENDS    5:30

    All songs written by Derek Shulman/Philip Shulman/Ray Shulman/Kerry Minnear

CREDITS

GARY GREEN -- guitars, percussion
KERRY MINNEAR -- keyboards, vibraphone, percussion, Moog, vocals
MALCOLM MORTIMORE -- drums
DEREK SHULMAN -- vocals
PHILIP SHULMAN -- saxes and vocals
RAY SHULMAN -- basses, violin, 12-string guitar, vocals
Calvin Shulman -- boy's voice (2)
Martin Rushkent -- engineer
Rick Breach -- sleeve design (US)

return to GENTLE GIANT discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/BRA 1972 Vertigo LP 6360 070 gatefold cover
US 1972 Columbia LP KC 31649 gatefold cover
JPN 1978 Vertigo LP BT-5166 lyric insert
US   Columbia LP PC 31649 gf cover, red label reissue
US   Columbia CD CK 31649  
    Vertigo 2LP 6685016 repackaged w. GENTLE GIANT

 

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